D-backs’ GM Mike Hazen not concerned about Zack Greinke’s velocity

Mar 29, 2017, 9:39 AM | Updated: 11:45 am

Arizona Diamondbacks' Zack Greinke sits in the dugout after pitching in the first inning of a sprin...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Zack Greinke sits in the dugout after pitching in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

LISTEN: Mike Hazen, Diamondbacks general manager

When you sign a $206.5 million contract with a franchise that isn’t used to shelling out that kind of coin, you’re under the microscope.

Welcome to Zack Greinke’s world.

Greinke will take the mound Sunday for the Arizona Diamondbacks in their season opener against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field. The right-hander is coming off a disappointing first year with Arizona, during which he posted a 13-7 record and a 4.37 ERA — which was nearly three runs higher than his National League-leading 1.66 mark with the Dodgers in 2015.

This spring, Greinke’s every move continues to be dissected. In that evaluation, experts point out the three-time All-Star’s velocity is down.

According to, Greinke’s four-seam fastball has averaged 90.76 miles per hour during spring training, which is down about two MPH from his 2016 monthly averages.

One person who isn’t concerned about Greinke’s spring is Arizona general manager Mike Hazen.

“No,” Hazen responded when asked if he was worried Wednesday morning with Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “The sky is not falling. Guys are going to work into spring training a little differently, especially veteran players are going to work into spring training a little differently.

“I think velocity is one of those things that we tend to over-exaggerate at times and especially in the spring training environment, we tend to over-exaggerate in both directions in terms of velocity. He’s still trying to get in shape and getting ready for the season.”

Greinke’s last Cactus League outing before the season opener came Tuesday in Peoria against the Seattle Mariners. He went four innings, allowing six hits and three earned with no walks and no strikeouts in a 57-pitch session during a 15-6 win. After leaving the game, Greinke threw 13 more pitches to bring his total to 70 for the day.

Greinke did go 2-0 in three spring starts, logging 10.2 innings in the process. He struck out only five while walking three and posting a 5.06 ERA — not that much higher than his career Cactus League ERA of 4.65 in 184 innings over the last 11 springs.

Hazen believes older pitchers like Greinke may take a little bit longer to hit their peak velocity and that process might not be completed by the time the regular season starts. He’s still encouraged by other things he’s seen from the 33-year-old.

“He had a great change-up (Tuesday). He threw that quite a few times. He had a really good breaking ball, he’s snapping that off,” he said. “I think as the command improves with the touch and feel, as he repeatedly gets out there on the mound and the mechanics come along with that, you’re going to see both a tightening up of the command and the velocity improving.”

As recently as 2014, Greinke experienced a three-MPH jump in the average speed of his fastball during the course of the season. In spring that year, he averaged 90.66 MPH. By the end of the campaign, that number had risen to 93.93. He won 17 games and struck out 207 batters in 202.1 innings.

In reference to his point that velocity, especially in spring training, is over-exaggerated, Hazen said he doesn’t believe Greinke is all that reliant on blowing away hitters.

“I don’t,” he said. “There’s probably, for every pitcher, a level of finish that needs to be there that may or may not be attributed specifically to velocity.

“But this guy is a premium strike-thrower with plus-plus command of multiple pitches and intelligence on the mound as well.”

We’ll get our first look at the 2017 version of Greinke Sunday afternoon as he faces San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m. and you can hear all the action on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

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